After a week of watching Brown Pelicans flying up and down the coast of North Carolina’s pristine beaches, I found myself wondering just where were they heading? It had been a week and I had no answers.
When our time was up in order to avoid the traffic heading off the island we decided to head the other way and spend a little more time bird watching. From Duck we headed to the north end of Corolla. We had heard that there is a drivable beach there, which our all-wheel drive SUV could manage. With a car full of luggage, two little shih-tzus, and Jen in the car I figured it would just be a quick drive up the beach and back.
Upon entering the drivable area there was a big sign that read something like this: Parking only permitted in the middle of the beach. With people right behind me anxious to drive on the beach I drove past the sign quickly so as not to annoy them.
Right when we drove onto the beach there they were! Dozens of beautiful Brown Pelicans balanced on the ropes connecting a bunch of pilings. They were busy landing, taking off, napping, and interacting with each other. I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was a field day for any bird loving artist/photographer. I made sure I parked right in the middle of the beach like the sign told me to, and Jen said go enjoy and take all the pictures you can.
Even with my fear of sharks I found myself in up to my knees in fairly windswept water. I was totally focused on the pelicans, enjoying every minute of a golden opportunity. The lighting wasn’t great but that didn’t matter. Just getting the chance to photograph this incredible setting was a wonderful way to end our birding week on the Outer Banks.
With my shorts now wet up to my thighs and hundreds of pictures taken, I walked back to our car. As I approached I noticed a broad shouldered, uniformed man talking to Jen through the passenger side window. He was very intimidating looking, built like a middle linebacker, and he was wearing a badge. It was then that I overheard the tail end of the conversation between them.
He said “I could easily fine you $1,200 for not obeying the Federal regulations. You are not allowed to park on this beach unless you drive one and a half miles down the beach.” Fortunately, he had a softer side, realized we didn’t intentionally do anything wrong and let us go.
I hopped in the car and drove down the beach a mile and a half, all the time thinking how lucky I was to get the pictures I did. The whole time I was photographing the pelicans I was wondering why nobody else was. They kept driving by and I had them all to myself. I just figured they had no interest in pelicans and were anxious to hit the beach.
This painting is the first of a series of paintings I plan on creating from my unlawful, albeit totally innocent photographs taken. I worked on capturing the movement in the water beneath the two pelicans. They were balancing with ease on the thick rope, holding on with their large, webbed feet. It was slightly overcast with brightness trying to shine through.
I hope you like the Balancing Act. It was a scene I worked hard to capture and almost paid dearly for! ☺